River level : -2in – 1ft+

Water Temperature : 60-68F

As I mentioned in my last report, we did get the anticipated rise in water from last weekend’s rain – it went up over 1ft on both Sunday morning and again on Monday.    However, it didn’t really help our anglers nor the upstream fishing unfortunately.

Monday was simply a right-off as the river was running brown in colour for most of the day (This isn’t typical of the Lochy, but with no Hydro water dilution, the water takes much longer to clear).  With very hot daytimes temps, the rain that fell was also warm and the water temp shot up to 68F.   It took 24 hrs to drop back to normal temperature.

By Tuesday the river was down to a few inches on the gauge and only a hint of colour but still no taking fish were to be found.  However we did see quite a number of new salmon at the Mucomir Dam outflow – they clearly ran straight through on the initial lift in water levels…..  Very frustrating!!!

It was Wednesday before were managed to put a fish in the book – a 5lb grilse from beat 3.   Another salmon was caught on Thursday  – a 10lber from Beat 4.    Both were caught by our 2 Swiss anglers – Rene and Thorsten.  Thorsten also had a 7lb brown trout (on a 5wt rod and light leader) which I guess made his trip to the lochy somewhat memorable.

Bravo les gars!!

 

Down on the Tailrace, there was more action and its was Chris Cairns and Paul McHugh who were leading the way again. Chris had a 10lber while Paul had one around 14lbs.   Sadly no photos.

On Friday, it was one of our upstream rods- Andy Burton who stole the headlines – a lovely 12lbs bar of silver.

Andy in action……

The result…..

 

As the week drew to a close club member Richard MacDonald got his season underway with 2 cracking fish on Saturday morning.

1 x 16lbs and 1 x 14lbs.   He also lost another 2 good fish!! Now that’s what you call a good mornings fishing  😮

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forecast looks more promising for next week and the Met office are predicting a change mid-week.  This would be most welcome as the river is becoming desperately low.

 

 

 

 

River Level – 2-3in

River Temp – 60F

This was not the ideal salmon fishing week! With daytime temps reaching 27C and cloudless skies for most days,  Lochaber was more like the Costa Del Sol, than the west coast of Scotland.  I can’t honestly remember having sustained weather like this in May ever before.  Suffice to say,  the fishing upstream on the beats was extremely hard going.  With just a couple of inches on the gauge and no night time tides,  it was apparent that the salmon decided not to run……and thus we had not a touch on the beats 1-4.

However, down in the estuary beat (Tailrace) the situation was rather different. Fish were seen daily coming in and out on the tide and the club anglers had some welcome action. 3 salmon were landed – a 14lber for Robert Ralston, a 13lber for Chris Cairns…….and a cracking 20lber for Paul McHugh-pictured below.  All were sealiced.

 

So, although our anglers maybe going home feeling slightly deflated, albeit with a nice tan, it is pleasing to know we have a number of fish waiting to run the river when conditions change!

Ironically that change may have happened last night!  After some heavy thunder showers up the valley yesterday evening, the river rose to over 1ft during the night so hopefully this may have enticed a few fish to run.   We should find on Monday.

 

The forecast still looks summer-like for the next few days, but less warm than last week…….and maybe an odd thundery shower also.

The tides will be dropping, but high tide will moving to night-time, which may help.

Next weeks anglers should come prepared for low water conditions upstream and fishing early and late!

 

River Height – 7in-1ft 2.

River temp – 48-55 DegF

After a promising start to the week the clouds disappeared, the temperatures soared and an east wind prevailed – not ideal for catching salmon!

Monday saw overcast conditions with some rain and the river slowly rising to over 1ft. 2 fish were landed.

Charlie Spencer had this cracking 16lber from Beat 4.

 

I also managed a lovely 8lber from beat 2.

The weather changed on Tuesday and high pressure set in for the remainder of the week. The few fish in the river seemed to disappear and any new fish seemed reluctant to run….or if they did, it was during the hours of darkness and we never saw them!  No other fish were seen nor touched!

…..but we did see three  Roe Deer having a paddle on Beat 2.

On the club beats Craig MacIsaac was proving again what a good young angler he is. He landed a lovely fresh 14lber on Mucomir on Wednesday night – quite possibly a fish that came in on the rise in water at the start of the week.

On Thursday we had the first fish from the Tailrace – a 14lber caught by Mark Ward. Another was lost on Saturday.  So, despite the upriver height and temp being reasonable for this time of year, the Tailrace seems to be where they are stopping for now?

The summer weather looks set to stay with us for  most of next week but with bigger tides the fish may start to move slowly upstream.

 

Water Height – 8-1ft

Water Temp – 50deg F

Our first tenants of 2018 arrived to blue skies and sunny conditions……Spring had finally arrived in Lochaber!

These conditions are usually seen as detrimental to catching fish, but this is not always the case.   Fresh,  sea-liced salmon are not so fussy when it comes to overhead conditions and almost all our May fish are straight from the sea. The key to success is keeping the fly in the water and finding a fresh run salmon in a likely resting spot.

The start of the week passed with a few sightings of running fish but only one hooked and lost.  As the river levels dropped below the 1ft mark the salmon started to hold a bit longer in the pools (As expected) and it was our man Ron Powell from the Oregon-USA that got the first one in the book – a lovely 12lber from Larch Tree on Beat 4. He quickly added another but this one was double the size of the first. A cracking 39in Lochy springer.  (Unfortunately his phone camera would not work, so no trophy shot for Ron!!) Not settling for just the two, he then hooked another (in the same pool) but unfortunately this one didn’t stick.  However not a bad mornings work for Ron. All 3 were hooked on one of his Steelhead intruder flies……and in bright sunshine!!  Well done Ron.   A couple more were lost on beat 4 that morning and then the fish moved on!  Surprising nothing was seen above on Beat 3 in the afternoon.

Friday produced another fish (an 8lber-small for this time of year) for Michael Mann on Beat 1 and another lost on Beat 2. Saturday was quieter with no fish seen and just 1 other lost on Beat 1.   It would seem we are awaiting the next batch of fish to come in!

Next week sees the tides dropping back but there maybe some rain in the catchment on Monday??  From Thursday it looks to be turning much warmer. Spring to summer in the space of a week!   With current water levels, salmon should move through slowly, giving the anglers some chance on intercepting.

 

 

 

 

 

This is a fabulous new film about the full life-cycle of the Atlantic Salmon. Well worth watching to see all of the threats this amazing fish must overcome to complete its ultimate journey – to spawn back in the river of its birth. I hope you enjoy it much as I did.

Jon Gibb

 

 

It’s been a busy last few months at the hatchery and in our representational work at a national level.

The winter was particularly cold this year and this meant that both stripping of broodstock and the development of ova was a good 3 weeks behind normal due to the lower than usual water temperatures. At times the snow was quite a challenge…


Nevertheless we successfully grew on all of the eyed ova required for outside contract work (currently the Ness DSFB project to restore the Upper Garry is the largest of these) as well as growing on all of the Lochy eggs with near 98% survival through to alevin.


The first of the alevins are now only now just beginning to absorb their yolk sacs and they will be introduced to feed over the next few weeks. These fish will be stocked as fed fry based on an electro-fishing survey being undertaken in July to identify poorly populated areas of the catchment.

Meanwhile stocking of fin clipped smolts was undertaken in April and early May. 15,000 fin clipped smolts were released in the Roy and 50,000 fin clipped smolts were released in the main stem River Lochy. The latter fish were treated with the infeed anti-sealice medicine SLICE which should give them 6 weeks protection from infestation as they find their way out to sea.

Probably the most important event of the last few months for us has been the Scottish Government’s enquiry into salmon farming. This is due to report some time this summer. We have made sure that the Lochy and surrounding rivers have been at the forefront of their considerations and, as well as written representations, I was invited to give evidence as a witness to the Committee as part of their enquiry. Following this I hosted a site visit for the REC Committee to the River Lochy and Drimsallie Hatchery. These were both very good opportunities to express the view that, while we view fish farming as critically important to the West Coast economy, we do not believe that it is currently being undertaken in suitable locations or that regulation is tight enough to protect migratory fish. So we now all wait to see whether the MSP’s will be brave enough to tackle the problem head on and introduce new measures to see the genuinely sustainable expansion of the fish farming industry.

So as a new season starts we all wait to see what it will bring. Will the spring and early summer run continue the trend of recent years (2017 aside) and continue to increase? Or will the summer and autumn grilse runs improve on recent years? We won’t know unless we are out there with a fly in the water.. so I wish all visiting and local anglers Tight Lines for the season ahead…..and don’t forget to check for those adipose fin clips!

Jon Gibb, Hatchery and Restoration Manager.

Exactly a year to the day the Lochy has its first fish of the season.   Well done Craig MacIsaac….a lovely 10lb sealicer from Mucomir pool.

Let’s hope this is the start of some good spring fishing.

 

 

As Spring 2018 fast approaches, how will it shape up??
Well, without my crystal ball it’s extremely hard to predict with any degree of certainty……there’s just too many variables.   However, we can look at previous figures and trends to help us understand what MIGHT happen!
If I remove 2017 out the equation for now (will come back to that later), 2012 to 2016 shows an improving trend for MSW salmon, for both weight and numbers. This statistic seems to confirm we are in the early stages of salmon cycle, linked with improved early season fishing and the downturn in the Autumn timeframe.
Of course within these cycles and changes, nothing is ever certain nor 100% predictable and stable, but we can clearly see an positive movement over the last 5 years in the May-July period.
Number of salmon (May-July)
Number of salmon 15lbs and over from Beats 1-4 (May-Oct)
Even if we take a look back further the upward trend for MSW salmon is much more evident across the whole season. Its worth noting the sudden dips throughout this period but also the movement to higher peaks and higher troughs – showing a positive trend.
Total salmon number (May-Oct)
In 2017, the MSW salmon run failed to materialise.  It is fair to say this is a direct result of very poor smolt survival from the 2015 smolt run (e.g. Grilse numbers in 2016 were the lowest since 1998). These things happen!
Like I stated above, salmon runs are far from predictable on a yearly basis and thus, even in an upward trend there can always be isolated years where a combination of factors create a collapse in numbers, hence it is better to focus on trends rather than one-off years.
So, what does this mean for 2018?
Let’s focus on 2 areas which might aid the thinking process –
  1. The Trend – MSW salmon survival at sea seems to be fairing better than the Grilse so there’s no reason to think that this trend won’t continue.
  2. Smolt survival from 2016 – The 2017 Grilse returns, although not spectacular, we’re an massive improvement on the 2016 numbers, leading to the conclusion that the survival rate was much better for these smolts than the 2015 smolt run.   On this basis, the 2018 MSW salmon returns should be much improved also……. and will hopefully improve over the next 2-3 years.
So, if we extrapolate some figures, the graph may look something like this?
Looking further ahead, I would predict 2019 would see a further increase and then 2020 and 2021 could be back too much higher numbers. (peaks)  This of course is my own speculative view but it is based on factual historical data trends.
So, in amongst all the doom and gloom after such a bad season it’s good to reflect on what has gone before and relate it what may happen in the future.  Food for thought anyway!
……And remember it’s always harder to secure good fishing when the peaks are at their highest!!
With that in mind, I still have some excellent fishing available this spring/summer. See below.
Tightlines…
JV
————-
Availability :
Weeks Commencing :
May 14th and 21st
June 4th and 11th
July 9th, 16th and 23rd
Some other split weeks available also.
Email me : JVeitch34@gmail.com

A typical MSWsalmon from the Lochy – they don’t come much better in Scotland!!   I have availability when these big fish are running. See latest dates below : 
Weeks Commencing:

May 7th and 28th

June 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th

 

July 2nd, 9th and 30th

 

Email me @ John.Veitch@riverlochy.co.uk